The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has concluded its defence in the petition filed by Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
At the resumed court session on Monday, the INEC team led by Abubakar Mahmoud called the sole witness, Lawrence Bayode, an assistant director in the commission’s information technology department.
Led in evidence, Bayode adopted his witness statement and was cross-examined by other respondents and the petitioners’ lawyers.
Responding to questions from Wole Olanipekun, counsel to President Bola Tinubu and Vice President Kashim Shettima, the witness said images captured on bimodal voter accreditation system (BVAS) machines required data services for them to be uploaded to the INEC result viewing portal (IREV).
However, he added that whether or not photographic copies of polling unit results captured by BVAS are transmitted manually or electronically, the integrity of the election was not compromised.
The witness admitted that the presidential election was “free, fair and in substantial compliance with the electoral act”.
Under cross-examination by Lateef Fagbemi, APC lawyer, Bayode said the glitch on the IREV portal on the day of the election did not affect the actual scores of the candidates as the results of each of them remained the same.
He said INEC did not do an electronic collation of results.
The APC lawyer then presented a newspaper article wherein INEC has given a pre-election notice stating that electronic collation of results was not feasible.
The newspaper was tendered and admitted in evidence despite objection from the petitioners’ counsel.
During further cross-examination, Chris Uche, Abubakar’s counsel, presented the recently released report by the European Union (EU) election observation mission in Nigeria.
In the report, the EU team stated that the elections exposed enduring systemic weaknesses that needed to be corrected.
The EU faulted INEC for the operational challenges and glitches experienced with the bimodal voter accreditation system (BVAS) and the result viewing portal, saying the discrepancies severely damaged public confidence in the electoral body.
Atiku and the PDP are contesting Tinubu’s victory in the presidential poll.
The petitioners closed their case on June 23 after calling 27 witnesses.